Muslim organization charges school with discriminaton


Published: Thursday, June 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
JACKSONVILLE - A 10-year-old Muslim girl was repeatedly discriminated against at school because of her religion, the Council on American-Islamic Relations said Wednesday.
The organization served a discrimination complaint to Pine Forest Elementary School of the Arts on behalf of cello player Alana Scott. The group said the school and a music teacher penalized Scott because she is Muslim.
The girl was also banned from participating in a music concert with other schools because she was wearing a traditional head scarf or hijab, CAIR said.
Scott was among several students not allowed to participate for failing to take proper performance uniforms for the April 25 show. The decision had nothing to do with the hijab or her religion, said principal Denise Ahearn.
Ahearn said the music group was told to wear their school T-shirts during rehearsals and to bring their uniform to change into before the concert. Scott and several other students did not bring all the required clothing items and were excused from the concert. Ahearn declined to give the names of the other students.
Scott would have been allowed to perform wearing her head scarf if she also wore her performance uniform, Ahearn said.
"What is so distressing about this is that diversity is so inherent in this school," Ahearn said. "Our policy is that no child will be discriminated against. We celebrate every child who walks through our doors."
CAIR spokesman Ahmed Bedier said Scott was consistently mistreated by her music teacher, who would ask her why she was wearing the head scarf.
The teacher could not be reached for comment.
A teacher also kicked Scott off the bus and threatened to have her arrested, Bedier told The Florida-Times Union.
"It was never mentioned to us that other students were not allowed to perform," Bedier said, "but we know for a fact that no other students were threatened with arrest if they didn't get off the bus."
The girl and her mother met with the principal and the teacher, Bedier said.
The organization is seeking a full investigation by the school board, a reprimand of school officials involved, a clarification of their nondiscriminatory policy, and Islamic cultural competency training, Bedier said.

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